Saturday, 16 February 2013

Celebrating 6 Years of Apple & Spice with Apple, Caramel & Almond Tart with Peanut Praline

Wow I can’t believe this is my blogs 6th anniversary. I never thought I would keep it up when I started all those years ago. There has been some distinctive changes in my life throughout the span of this blog, but my love of food and baking has remained steadfast.

A few weeks ago, I almost considered finishing the blog. I was finding I had less time to bake and blog and when I did get round to baking at the weekend, I felt I should be making the recipes for either the Daring Bakers group or The Cake Slice group that I am a member of. It felt there was always a recipe I should be baking and my own ‘to bake’ list kept growing larger and larger without me ever getting the chance to bake any of them. I have come to the decision to give up the baking groups and instead focus on the recipes I want to bake and eat. After all, surely that’s what my blog should be about, the kind of food I like to bake and eat.

I’d like to say a big Thank You to Paloma of The Coffee Shop who has taken over the management of The Cake Slice group, that I set up and have run for the past 5 years. Thanks Paloma, you are doing a fabulous job.

Anyway, back to Apple & Spice and all things deliciously apple-y! Every blog anniversary I have always made an apple inspired recipe to celebrate.
1st year – Spiced Apple Cake

4th year – Fruity Tea Loaf

This year I made Apple, Caramel and Almond Tart with Peanut Praline. A sweet pastry tart with a layer of dulce de leche caramel, topped with almond frangipane and decorated with slices of fresh tart apple and finished with peanut praline. Yum!

I really wanted to make an apple tart this year and love the flavour of apple and almond together and so decided to make an almond frangipane to go underneath my apple slices. This got me thinking that it would be even better if there was a hidden layer of something underneath the frangipane, which let me to dulce de leche caramel. Apple, caramel and almond – what’s not to love?!

You may notice that the apple slices have been arranged horizontally, rather than the usual vertical fan formation. This allows you to build up layers to create an effect that almost resembles a rose or flower.

Once baked the tart looked and smelt lovely, but I still felt it needed something extra and my eyes settled on a bar of peanut brittle. A quick attack with a rolling pin and I had some peanut praline crumbs to sprinkle over the top of the finished tart.

The tart was delicious, even if I do say so myself. All the flavours worked together so well and the peanut praline crumbs really made it. Adding a little nuttiness and crunch against the sweet and fruity tart.  I love how you can see all the layers in each slice.

I fed it to a couple of work colleagues, one of whom told me in advance not to be offended if she didn’t like it as she wasn’t a dessert person. She ended up asking me for the recipe, and I don’t think (I hope) that she was just being polite. It’s got a few components but is quite easy to put together and tastes like you have been slaving away for hours. Do give it a go, it’s sure to impress.

Apple, Caramel & Almond Tart with Peanut Praline
Gluten Free Sweet Pastry
200g gluten free plain flour blend
90g butter
1 egg
40g icing sugar
½ tsp xanthan gum
1-2 tbsp water

3 Granny Smith apples
Juice of ½ lemon

Almond Frangipane
55g ground almonds
55g caster sugar
55g butter
10g plain flour
1 large egg
½ tsp almond extract

Caramel Filling
1 small tin dulce de leche

To Finish
1 tbsp caster sugar
10g butter
Apricot jam to glaze
30g peanut brittle/praline

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry
Have a 7-8inch fluted tart tin to hand. Preheat your  oven to 200C.
Mix the flours and xanthan gum together in a bowl.
In a separate bowl, add your butter, (it should be soft, if not blast it in the microwave for a few seconds) along with half the flour mixture, the egg, sugar and 1 tablespoon of the water. Beat with a spoon or spatula to form a paste. (Yes I know this goes against all traditional pastry making!) Add the rest of the flour and bring the mixture together to form a dough, switching to your hands at the end. Add a little more water if it seems dry. Knead the dough gently for 1 minute to ensure everything is well combined.
Roll out the pastry between two large sheets of clingfilm to the size and shape of your tart tin, plus an extra 1-2 inches for the sides.
Peel off the top sheet of clingfilm, and use the base sheet to help you flip the pastry into the tin and press it down gently. Trim off the excess and patch up any cracks with the off-cuts of pastry.
Prick the pastry lightly with a fork and place on a baking tray.
Blind bake the pastry for 15 minutes until just starting to brown.
Remove from the oven and set aside. Reduce your oven to 180C.

For the Apples
Fill a large bowl with water and add the juice of half a lemon
Peel and core the apples. Slice into 3mm thick slices and add to the lemon water while you cut the rest. (This stops them browning)

For the Frangipane
Soften the butter and then cream it together with the caster sugar until fluffy. Add the egg and almond extract and beat again. Add the flour and ground almonds and beat again to incorporate.

Spread some of the dulce de leche caramel into the base of your tart. Add blobs of the almond mixture on top and smooth over to create an even layer.
Drain the water from the apples and pat them dry.
Arrange the apple slices in a fan formation on top. Start at the edge and work you way into the middle, overlapping each slice. Arrange them curve side out towards the edge, rather than the usual fan formation. This ends up creating more of a rose/flower effect to the apple slices.
Melt the 10g butter and brush over the apple slices. Sprinkle over the tablespoon of sugar.
Bake in the oven at 180C for 35 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Glaze with a little warmed apricot jam. Crush the peanut brittle into crumbs and scatter over the top of the tart before serving.
Makes 1 x 7-8inch tart


Ashencircle said...

Happy 6 year anniversary! Love the look of the tart.

Johanna GGG said...

congratulations on 6 years Katie - I admire how you have adapted to gf baking so seamlessly and continued to produce fascinating and delicious creations - surely nothing can stop you! Though you may have to change how you work.

I have had little experience at being part of groups but love blog events but lately have cut back a bit if it means I will get recipes posted - so I have some empathy for your problem with the groups. Hope you will continue blogging and find your comfort zone as your life changes.

Cynky said...

Katie, Quite an achievement keeping such a creative blog going for 6 years, I applaud your effort.

I happened to have an uncooked GF flan case in the freezer so I set to this morning after reading your blog and made a variation on your apple and almond tart. I spread apricot jam on first, then put a thin layer of ready made marzipan, then two sliced Granny Smith apples, quick brush with melted butter and sprinkled with demerara sugar. Cooked it in my Remoska.

We ate a piece at lunchtime, it was declared really good and 'you will have to make this again for sure'. Thank you for the inspiration.

I can relate to your concerns about making cakes for the two groups you mentioned... my moment was with an embroidery Guild. I like sewing of all sorts, but having to do guided projects just turned me off, so I had to withdraw so that I could be my own creative self. I hope you will continue with your blog though as you have given me loads of help since my husband became coeliac.

Best wishes Cynthia

The Caked Crusader said...

I always love your anniversary blogs - I remember the overnight apple stack!

I have experienced the same thoughts and feelings as you - this year will be my 6th anniversary and I have questioned whether I should/can continue.
I found baking groups weren't for me - I wanted to choose what to bake and didn't like being told I had to make all the bakes or be thrown out.

Caroline said...

Congratulations on your blog anniversary, it's six years well worth celebrating!

I gave up on baking groups because it never seemed to fit with what I wanted to make. At least with challenges you largely retain the ability to pick and choose a recipe to suit you!

Here's to more success for you with Apple and Spice in the future!

Emily said...

Happy 6th anniversary! and many more to come!

Paloma said...

Ah! Yumminess!!! Congratulations on your 6th blogversary! How cool!!!

Paloma said...

(and thanks for the mention ;) ... )

Elle said...

Happy 6 years of blogging Katie! It has been fun to bake with you (Daring Bakers and Cake Slice) and to see all of the changes over the years. I love the creativity of this anniversary tart...especially the inspired addition of the peanut praline on top. Must have been wrenching to give up the baking groups but I know what you mean about it becoming the thing that has to be baked...not what you might bake given limited time. Happy for you.

Nic said...

Happy blog birthday! What a super post to celebrate, hope there's many more! x

Choclette said...

Oh goodness me, I'm a bit late to the party! Huge congratulations on commencing your sixth year of blogging, that is some achievement. Your tart sounds divine, you do come up with some brilliant recipes. Giving up the baking challenges must have been a tough decision, but I can well understand it. All of the events I'm part of seem to rule my life. I'm glad you've decided to carry on, you have a great blog and it would be much missed.